Last year, the new Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 replaced the Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999. There are various updates to the Act which you should be aware of if you need to make a claim from an injury in a motor vehicle accident. These include the determination of a minor injury and changes to the steps that can be taken to file a claim.
What constitutes a minor injury in the eyes of the NSW law?
Soft tissue injury
Soft tissue is the tissue that connects, supports or surrounds well-defined structures and organs within the body. These include connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, fat, fascia, fibrous tissues and synovial membranes and non-connective tissues like skin, muscles, nerves and blood vessels.
Any injury that affects soft tissues will likely be classed as a minor injury under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017, however, there are a few exceptions.
The following soft tissue injuries do not count as minor injuries:
- Injury to nerves
- Partial or full rupture of cartilage, ligaments and tendons
Minor psychological or psychiatric injury
Psychological or psychiatric injuries are often diagnosed by doctors under the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Depression. Generally speaking, if an injury is not a recognised psychological or psychiatric illness, then it is classed as a minor injury.
Many injured persons after a motor vehicle accident have feelings of sadness, guilt, fear or anxiety. While these can be detrimental to everyday life after an accident, they tend to be easily recovered from with treatment and support in a short period of time.
Two examples of diagnosed psychological or psychiatric injuries still being considered minor injuries are acute stress disorders and adjustment disorders.
The insurer will take into account the report filed by your doctor, and based on the new Act’s classification of minor injuries will determine whether your injury is minor or not.
What can be claimed for a motor vehicle accident minor injury?
- Weekly payments to cover the loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Domestic or personal care expenses
The three steps that can now be claimed for under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 are as follows:
Step 1 – No-fault statutory benefits
While the previous act was completely fault-based, the new act will cover all motorists regardless of fault.
- A claim must be made within 3 months of the accident
- The scheme can cover lost wages and reasonable and necessary medical expenses
- Injured drivers at fault are also eligible to claim under this step,
- If the accident was caused by a serious driving offence, eligibility will be impacted
Those with a “minor injury”, as explained above, are not eligible to make a claim for further than step 1, which is capped at 6 months compensation.
Step 2 – Fault-based statutory benefits
When the motor vehicle accident was not your fault, you may be eligible to claim statutory benefits for a further period after 6 months.
- You must be able to prove that the other driver was at fault
- In some instances, if there is no fault of another driver, you can still claim under this step
- You must be able to prove that your injury is not minor
- Payment of lost wages can continue for up to 2 years. If you claim for damages, this can extend to a maximum of 5 years
- Reasonable and necessary medical treatment may continue for up to 5 years under this step (any further treatment may continue indefinitely under a government paid scheme)
Step 3 – Damages
Damages are a lump sum of money paid to the successful claimant as compensation. They are broken down into economic losses like past and future earnings, and non-economic losses such as whole person impairment greater than 10%.
- Damages are not recoverable for those with minor injuries or those who are at fault of the accident
- Damages may be claimed if the accident was nobody’s fault, with certain limitations
- Lump sum payments may represent pain, disfigurement, disability, loss of enjoyment of life and other situations resulting from the MVA injury
- Damages cannot be claimed for medical treatment under the new Act
You cannot commence a damages claim until 20 months have elapsed since the motor vehicle accident.
The new Act in 2017 abolished claiming damages for medical treatment. If reasonable and necessary, medical treatment will be paid under the statutory benefit scheme, and in the case of treatment over 5 years, government-paid schemes such as Lifetime care and support
How can Taylor & Scott help those in NSW injured in motor vehicle accidents?
The expert team here at Taylor & Scott are experienced in all aspects of Motor Vehicle Accidents and work hard to get you the compensation that you deserve.
Our Motor Accident Compensation specialists suggest the following actions be taken following a motor vehicle accident after December 2017:
- Report the accident to the police within 28 days
- Obtain a medical certificate after a consultation with your doctor
- Contact the greenslip insurer of the vehicle at fault (if applicable) to provide details of the accident
- If your injury is not minor, contact our experts at Taylor & Scott on 1800 600 664, by completing the enquiry form at the top of the page, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, where you can discuss your rights
We act on a no win, no fee basis, so you will not pay a penny unless and until you win your case.
At Taylor & Scott, We Care For You.
Published: 22 November 2018